“The accidental millionaire-how to succeed in life without REALLY trying” was the first book I’ve ever written. So obviously there would be a story as to how an author writes his memoirs and gets the book not only published but distributed in bookstores everywhere.
The book that really got me inspired to write on my own story was “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls. I really enjoyed that book, most particularly the thing that resonated with me was her recollections of childhood poverty. Having been a person lucky enough to make the newly acquired fortune, I wanted to dictate a memoir possibly for my kids to remember as much as I could with as much color as possible, stories of my childhood.
As the book progressed, it started to take multiple forms. First of all it began to fabricate itself into humor memoir because I had so many funny stories from my 20 years of being a wedding photographer. Then as I continued with the years after wedding photography, I started to realize that the book had a strong message: the minute I gave up seven goals and trying to cheapen, was the minute that my life became truly miraculous.
Once the manuscript was written, I self published the book, thinking that maybe I could get my friends and their friends to like it. At around the same time I wrote to a New York Times best-selling author, Jodee Blanco, who authored the book, “Stop Laughing At Me.” I just basically rotor quick e-mail and told her how much I enjoyed her book and how it motivated me to write my own memoirs.
Just need to send a writing sample, an excerpt from the book, and she really liked it. She then introduced me to her friend, the legendary publisher formerly of Carroll and Graf, Kent Caroll, who also really liked it. They then recommended me to their publisher friend GlennYeffeth from Ben Bella books. He immediately took a liking to it and offered me a publishing deal.
From that point on, there is a whole new wave of editing that occurs. I learned that when a publisher takes on the book, they have to clearly define what category this book belongs on the shelves. Is it a biography? Is it how-to? Or is it inspirational? This is what a publisher needs to pitch the book to the distributors who will then pitch the books to the bookstores. Therefore, when the book went through its editing process, the first thing they determined was that it was going to be long in both the biography and the business profile sections.
Then comes the part where the publisher is going to write a press release regarding the book. Of course, this is where the title comes in. And my publisher came up with the title. At first I bristled against it thinking that it’s not really my personality to go around calling myself a millionaire, but they convinced me that the book really was about was how I became truly successful right after the moment that I gave up trying desperately to accomplish one goal after another.
What they really liked about the book was how my path was completely unpredictable and I only became really successful the minute that I just stopped trying to control my outcome. And that’s where the book has its inspirational message.
Getting published is a really surreal thing. It’s easy to feel really insecure when you are publishing your memoirs. You wonder if you’re coming across as egotistical by publishing your memoirs as if to say who the heck am I to think that people would be interested in my life story? And now when I go into any major book reseller can I see my book in between Jane Fonda’s and Michael J. Fox’s, it still feels super weird but the reason why it’s doing well is because it’s funny, it’s engaging, and everybody can relate to it.
The advice I would give to authors who want to get published is to not want it so much. Just focus on the process of making a book that you are super proud of, and as long as you like it the goal is accomplished. If your friends like it that’s even better. As a wonderful gift to give to your children are learning lessons you learned, that’s a great reason to write the book. But to have the goal of “being published” as the be-all and end-all goal for writing a book in the first place, was the fact that there is a half-million new books published each year, and only a few hundred ever make it into the major bookstores, it’s probably better to not expect to get published and if it does happen how awesome is that?
Gary Fong is a world-renowned photographer, inventor and entrepreneur who has made multiple fortunes in business and real estate. From his inauspicious beginnings in a tiny, hairspray-saturated apartment that doubled as his parents’ wig studio, he went on to become, at a very young age, one of the world’s most successful wedding photographers. After making millions by revolutionizing an industry traditionally reserved for small businessmen, he “stumbled” upon serial successes in photo printing, software, real estate and camera accessories by making unconventional decisions based on his own quirky impulses. Gary has photographed celebrities such as Sylvester Stallone, Paul McCartney and Ronald Reagan, invented and marketed the Lightsphere, and co-founded Pictage, which became the largest dedicated online digital/web solution in the United States and sold for $29 million.
His latest book is The Accidental Millionaire: How to Succeed in Life Without Really Trying.
You can visit his website at www.garyfongaccidentalmillionaire.com.